The San Francisco 49ers are officially through the first portion of training camp. The team held their second padded practice, and fifth overall practice on Wednesday, and will have the day off on Thursday. Their next set of practices is Friday, Saturday and Sunday. That will be followed by a day off on Monday, practices Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and then travel to Houston for their preseason opener.
We'll have a separate article on the sod issues, so I won't be addressing them in here. I'd rather focus on what we learned aside from the field issues. So let's keep discussion focused to that where possible. It is worth noting the team went to half-speed in the last session of practice. There was thought it was due to the field, but the team said it was due to a limited depth chart at inside linebacker. Michael Wilhoite and Nick Bellore are on the NFI list, Philip Wheeler did not take part in Wednesday's practice due to a muscle strain, and NaVorro Bowman was taking part in his first padded practice since January 2013. That left the team with Bowman, Nick Moody, Shayne Skov and Desmond Bishop.
The offensive line bounces back
It is just one practice, but indications are that most of the offensive line had a strong day. Marcus Martin struggled in one-on-one drills, but the rest of the line seemed to do solid work. The 49ers seem fairly intent on going with this starting group of Staley, Boone, Looney, Martin and Pears. And if they think that group can work well together, then it makes sense to get them whatever practice time they can. They are a new unit and need time to gel. Maybe this blows up in the 49ers face, but for now, it makes sense to keep pounding away at practice.
Nick Moody with the pick
It has been a big offseason for Moody, as he competes for significant playing time. He continues to take advantage of Michael Wilhoite's stay on the NFI list, picking off a Colin Kaepernick red zone pass. It has been mostly positives, although without live tackling, we'll have to wait and see if he has sufficiently improved his tackling technique. He did mention getting a lot more coaching on his fundamentals, so maybe this allows him to take his game to the next level.
NaVorro Bowman is back in pads
Wednesday marked the first time NaVorro Bowman has practice in full pads since prior to the 2014 NFC Championship Game. That's huge. He sat out the team's first padded session on Tuesday, but clearly it was just a veteran's day off. Getting into pads was the next big step for him. Next up is getting in a few sessions, and then getting into that first preseason game. I would not expect a lot of work for him in the preseason opener, but any action will be huge.
It has been a quiet camp for McDonald, with Blake Bell getting a decent amount of buzz. It sounds like McDonald put together a solid session on Wednesday. Grant Cohn reported McDonald had three catches and no drops, and that he has had only one drop through the first five practices. That's kind of big for a guy who has struggled with drops in past camps. It is worth noting, he got off to a strong preseason start last year in game action but injuries ruined the season for him.
Matt Barrows reported Colin Kaepernick was 7-of-9 in 11-on-11 and team drills, but one of the notable incompletions was Nick Moody's goal line interception. It does sound like the passing game found success in 7-on-7 red zone drills. Obviously this needs to advance to full squad work, but it is a positive to take from the session.
Returned to practice: LB NaVorro Bowman returned after getting a veteran's day off on Tuesday; WR Jerome Simpson was back after missing two practices due to personal reasons
"New" injuries: S Antoine Bethea suffered a foot injury after Garrett Celek stepped on it, but he looked fine after practice and the team said as much; RB Mike Davis went down after stepping on loose grass, he got up slowly with a limp, but the team reported he was fine after practice; DT Arik Armstead took a knee to the thigh and sat out the rest of practice with what was described as "dead leg".
Did not practice: S Jaquiski Tartt (toe), WR Bruce Ellington (leg strain), WR Issac Blakeney (leg strain), LB Philip Wheeler (muscle strain), OL Ben Gottschalk (foot)
RB Reggie Bush, OLB Aaron Lynch, DL Darnell Dockett, DB Jimmie Ward, RB Kendall Hunter - The team was practicing in their base defense, so Dockett did not participate in team drills; Ward left the field with a trainer following individual work, but Cam Inman reported it was due to his prescribed rep count; Bush was a bit stiff after his conditioning test last week, and the team is taking their time with him; Lynch dealt with an offseason hamstring injury and it sounds like he is working back into shape following that injury; Hunter seems to be on an individual work rep count
PUP list: C Daniel Kilgore remains out rehabbing his leg injury
NFI list: LB Michael Wilhoite is rehabbing a leg strain, WR DeAndre Smelter is rehabbing his 2014 torn ACL, and LB Nick Bellore is dealing with an illness